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U.S. Under-17 MNT Fall to Canada 2-1 in Final Match of Three-Game Series in Minnesota


* Canada Gets Revenge After U.S. Won First Match 3-2 on Saturday (July 17)
* Eddie Ababio Scores Second Goal in Three Matches For the USA’s Only Goal on the Night
* U.S. WNT Follow U-17 Series With Match Against Australia Tomorrow Night (July 21) at National Sports Center in Second to Last Match Before Leaving for Olympics


BLAINE, Minn. (July 20, 2004) – The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team fell 2-1 to Canada in the final match of a three-game series this evening in front of 1,258 fans at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn.  Canada exacted revenge after the U.S. had defeated their northern neighbors 3-2 in the team’s first meeting last Saturday (July 17).

“Once again we were maybe the better team on the field, but didn’t come away with the victory as we struggled with our finishing,” said U.S. Under-17 head coach John Ellinger. “You have to give credit to Canada though as they played a lot better than the first game and took it to us in the second half. Overall, I think we played well in the three matches here in Minnesota, but there are still things we need to work on as we continue to prepare for qualifying next year.”

The U.S. was playing its third straight game against older competition as the U.S. roster is mainly filled with players born in 1988, while Canada’s squad is primarily players born a year earlier in 1987. The U.S. also faced U-19 Mexican club team, Cruz Azul, falling to the older squad 2-0 on Monday night, also in Blaine.

Similar to the Cruz Azul match, the U.S. was the team on the offensive in the early going, putting Canada under pressure and getting behind their backline, but then letting their opponent score on their first shot on goal. Canada took only one other shot, a deep attempt that gave goalkeeper Bryant Rueckner no worries; while the U.S. had eight shots, but couldn’t sneak one into the net.

In the second half it was a different story as Canada was the dominant team, not letting the U.S. get a shot off until the 73rd minute. As the U.S. looked for an equalizer, Canada broke their back with another goal in the 85th minute by Olivier Babineau. U.S. forward Eddie Ababio got one back with a stunning goal in extra time, but any thoughts of finding an equalizer were killed as the final whistle was blown seconds after the kickoff.

For the third straight game, midfielder Danny Szetela showed why he was coveted by MLS, which signed him to a contract last week. Szetela was creative in his attacking midfielder position, winning tackles, serving his teammates with deft through balls and making numerous runs down the flanks to begin attacks against Canada’s back four.

Szetela put the first shot on goal for either team in the seventh minute. Michael Stephens made a run down the left sideline along the penalty area and then dropped the ball to Adam Sloustcher. The midfielder served in a ball to the right post to Szetela who was able to head the ball on goal, but Canadian goalkeeper Asmir Begovic was in the right position for the easy save.

Canada broke open the scoring three minutes later after a breakdown in the U.S. defense left a gaping hole on the left side. Kerr McLeod was able to curl a pass from right midfield to midfielder Masumi Turnbull, who had occupied the open space and was wide open. Turnbull had time to collect the ball and take a few touches in on goal before blasting his shot past U.S. goalkeeper Bryant Rueckner and inside the right post.

Forward Jeremy Hall put a couple of shots off frame before the U.S. got another good opportunity on goal. Defender Taylor Hoss, playing in his first match with the U-17s, started the attack with a throw-in down the right sideline that Hall was able to rundown just before it went over the endline, knocking the ball back to an open Stephens about 10 yards out at the near post. Stephens hit it first time, but again Begovic was in the right spot to keep it out of the net.

Stephens had the chance to make up for his missed opportunity when Hall intercepted a headed back pass by Canadian defender Robert Kerek at the top of the box and pushed the ball to the forward wide-open inside the box. Stephens didn’t pull the trigger quick enough though and gave Kyle Bartkus enough time to get back and tackle him from behind. The ball bounced to his right and Stephens was able to run it down and get off a shot, but by then Begovic was right in front of him to cut off any angle and his attempt was parried out for a corner.

The U.S. and Canada both made a number of substitutes to start the second half, with Ellinger making five changes and Canada head coach Ray Clark making four. Canada’s new lineup pressured the U.S. backline right away and got off two opportunities in the first 10 minutes, while holding U.S. without a shot attempt until the 73rd minute when Szetela let rip a 35-yard strike that went harmlessly over the bar.

Two minutes later, Dax McCarty lobbed a ball forward for Ababio, putting him behind the defense, but Begovic sprinted off his line to beat the forward to the ball at the top of the box and clear it out of danger.

In the 79th minute, Ababio made a dazzling move, as he somehow was able to keep a ball in that seemed destined to go over the endline. Running down a Szetela pass inside the right side of the penalty area, he found himself surrounded by two defenders, but he was able to thread the ball out to Ryan Soroka at the near post. Soroka squandered the chance though with a poor first touch and the ball after resorting to dropping the ball back to a teammate it was cleared out of danger.

Canada broke the USA’s back when Olivier Babineau slotted a perfect ball through the backline for a streaking Tosant Ricketts. The speedy forward blazed past everyone and then buried his shot past Rueckner into the lower left corner to give Canada a 2-0 lead.

The U.S. pushed forward looking to get one back and finally got it from a stunning individual effort by Ababio, but it was too little, too late. With under a minute remaining, Rueckner knocked in a long ball up to the top of Canada’s penalty area where Ababio, with his back to the goal, chested the ball down. Ababio quickly turned and cut to his left along the 18-yard line, sprinting past four defenders to find space to unleash a shot that Begovic got a piece of, but still trickled into the net.


- U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team Game Report -

Participants: U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team vs. Canada
Competition: Friendly – Fire & Ice Series
Location: National Sports Center; Blaine, Minn.
Date: July 20, 2004
Weather: Warm and slightly cloudy, 75 degrees

Scoring Summary:    1st    2nd    Final
USA                                  0       1        1
CAN                                  1       1        2

CAN – Masumi Turnbull (Kerr McLeod)                10th minute
CAN – Tosant Ricketts (Olivier Babineau)            85th
USA – Eddie Ababio (Bryant Rueckner)               92nd

Lineups:
USA:; 1-Bryant Rueckner; 3-Julian Valentin, 7-Ofori Sarkodie, 17-Taylor Hoss (4-Eric Lichaj, 46); 20-Danny Szetela, 12-Michael Dal Pra (16-Nik Besango, 46), 13-Kevin Alston (15-Eric Avila, 70), 2-Adam Sloustcher (9-Carlos Borja, 46), 10-Dax McCarty; 14-Jeremy Hall (19-Eddie Ababio, 46), 8-Michael Stephens (11-Ryan Soroka, 46).
Subs not used: 18-Marcus Rein, 5-Richard Edgar, 6-Quavas Kirk.

CAN: 1-Asmir Begovic; 6-Kyle Bartkus (17-Thomas McLean, 46 ; 13-Jason Devenish, 82), 3-Kent O’Conner (12-Mark Cuevas, 46), 2-Robert Kerek, 5-Joey Loreth; 11-Masumi Turnbull, 10-Kerr McLeod, 4-Mike D’Agostino (7-Tosant Ricketts, 46), 16-Hector Contreras (14-Olivier Babineau, 68); 9-Alex Elliot (15-Massimo Di Ioia, 46), 8-Will Johnson.
Subs not used: 22-Adam Catley.

Statistical Summary:       USA      CAN
Shots                                      12            8   
Saves                                      1             4                    
Corner Kick                            9             6                    
Fouls                                      17           13                
Offside                                   2              3                    

Misconduct Summary:
CAN – Kent O’Conner (caution)                     11th minute
USA – Danny Szetela (caution)                      45th
CAN – Mark Cuevas (caution)                        57th
CAN – Massimo Di Ioia (caution)                  66th
CAN – Masumi Turnbull (caution)                  67th
CAN – Jason Devenich (caution)                  88th
USA – Eric Lichaj (caution)                            90th

Officials:
Referee: Shane Butler (USA)
Assistant: David Shalowitz(USA)
Assistant: Justin Angotti (USA)
4th Official: Terry Vaughn (USA)

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